By Christopher Strauchon, D.O.
Director of Urogynecology
UC Health Women’s Center
Urinary incontinence, the involuntary leakage of urine, is a common condition affecting an estimated 50% of adult women — and the issue becomes even more common as women age. Yet, many women are hesitant about seeking treatment for urinary incontinence.
What’s stopping women from getting help? For some, it can be feelings of embarrassment or a lack of knowledge of treatment options. Others may think to themselves, “This is just a part of getting older.”
The good news — urinary incontinence is not a normal part of the aging process, and there are treatment options available.
So, if urinary incontinence is not a part of the normal aging process, what causes it? Urinary incontinence can be divided into three main categories — stress incontinence, urge incontinence (also known as overactive bladder) and overflow incontinence.
- Stress incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine associated with physical activity such as lifting, jumping, coughing, sneezing or laughing.
- Urge incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine usually associated with a strong sensation of need to urinate and being unable to control it.
- Overflow incontinence is the continuous dribbling of urine due to incomplete bladder emptying.
There are also risk factors that are associated with the development of urinary incontinence:
- Caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Number of births and type of delivery.
- Family history
- History of a hysterectomy.
- Neurologic disease.
Depending on the type of urinary incontinence a woman has, therapies can range from lifestyle modifications to medications and surgical interventions. Helpful lifestyle changes can include quitting smoking, decreasing caffeine intake and weight loss.
Are you or a loved one experiencing symptoms? Here’s what to do next.
It is very important for women suffering with urinary incontinence symptoms to let their primary health care provider know, as failure to seek treatment can significantly impact quality of life. In older patient populations, it can lead to medical problems such as urinary tract infections, skin irritation and breakdown and increased risk of falls.
After speaking to your primary provider, he or she may be able to refer you to a urogynecologist, who is specialized in conditions such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse and can recommend the best treatment plan for you.
Remember, you are not alone. Urinary incontinence is a very common condition, and there are many treatment options available to you.
For more information regarding urinary incontinence, connect with our UC Heath Female Pelvic Health team by calling 513-475-8248 or visit uchealth.com.